2011 NFL Draft: Blaine Gabbert To Be Taken by Carolina Panthers, Says Mel Kiper

Brian MurtaughAnalyst IMarch 10, 2011

TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Quarterback Blaine Gabbert #11 of the Missouri Tigers drops back to pass during the Insight Bowl against the Iowa Hawkeyes  at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Tigers 27-24.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

ESPN's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay are well known for debating potential draft picks months before the NFL Draft, but Kiper's latest mock draft has many people talking.

Blaine Gabbert tops the list on Kiper's board and according to the analyst, will be taken first by the Carolina Panthers.

According to Kiper, the new NFL Labor Agreement (whenever it finally gets done,) will more than likely include some type of wage scale that will be absent of many incentives that are in a normal contract.

That makes Blaine Gabbert a much safer draft pick, as experts say that he has all the tools needed to become a starting quarterback quickly in the NFL.

As many Panther fans already know, Jimmy Clausen was taken by Carolina in the 2010 NFL draft.

Clausen started the majority of the Panthers' regular season games last season and played well for a rookie in a new system. However, it seems that head coach Ron Rivera feels like Clausen will not fit into his new plans for the organization.

The fact that Gabbert is considered the top pick over Auburn's Cam Newton may also come as a surprise to some. Newton led the Tigers to an undefeated season in 2010 and  a BCS National Championship.

When looking at game film, Gabbert is easily a better pocket passer, but does not come near the level of Newton's playing ability when the pocket breaks down.

The Panthers also hold a good position as far as trade value is concerned. Teams that are slated late in the first round may not be able to acquire the quarterback that they covet. Gabbert could either become a franchise quarterback in Carolina or traded within the hour of being drafted.